Monthly Archives: December 2017

Progress report

I included this health update in our bulletin this week to apprise the congregation on how I was doing and the plans for the future.


From the desk of Pastor Mark Wheeler

Dear friends,

First off, let me say, “Thank you!” for all the cards, visits, care packages, yard work, snow removal, putting up Christmas lights, meals, encouraging words, support, and prayer over the past two months. Carol and I are extremely grateful for all the help and support. We don’t know how we would have gotten through without you.

I am now two months into the recovery and rehab process since my accident on November 6 when I fell and broke my leg/hip. I have been cleared for full weight-bearing status. My in-home physical therapist has me doing exercises to help strengthen my leg and gradually increase mobility. I will soon begin more intensive physical therapy. I am on a blood thinner designed to help my body deal with the blood clot(s) in my calf and reduce the swelling. I am making slow progress, but still have a ways to go.

The tentative plan is that I will resume preaching on January 7. We will begin a new sermon series on “The State of the Church,” examining the seven churches in Revelation 1-3. Initially, I will sit in a chair while I preach until my leg gets strong enough to stand for an extended period of time. While I will be preaching again, I will not be in the office until I can resume driving. I still need greater strength, mobility, and confidence before I feel comfortable getting behind the wheel.

Thanks again for your prayers for my health and recovery. Please continue to pray for increased strength, mobility, and confidence in my leg/hip. Please pray as I adjust to a new normal. Please continue to pray for our staff and leaders as we shepherd the church.

Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. I’m in your debt.

Following His Footsteps,

Pastor Mark Wheeler

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Posted by on December 31, 2017 in Personal growth


Find your oasis

Book Review: Trade Your Cares For Calm, by Max Lucado

Fear may fill our world, but it doesn’t have to fill your heart. That is the theme of Max Lucado’s short book, Trade Your Cares For Calm. Many books on worry follow the pattern of “Don’t!” and give steps how to stop. Max Lucado wants to replace the wrong patterns of life and refocus our attention on something better. In that sense, the book follows the instructions of the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:8.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

The book combines inspiring stories, beautiful photographs, encouraging quotes, key Scriptures, and places to journal in order to help the reader pursue peace and calmness. The book is organized into 10 chapters that deal with anxiety, worry, control, God’s goodness, God’s mercy, guilt, “if only,” calm, gratitude, and peace. Each chapter has smaller 2-page sections that focus on a specific thought or action.

Rather than new material, the book is a collection of writings from previous books by the author. The book is designed to be a gift book that you could give to someone going through a difficult season of life.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Posted by on December 29, 2017 in Books, Scripture


A thrilling tale of spiritual warfare

Book Review: The Empowered: A Trevor Black Novel, by Craig Parshall

If you combine a mysterious voodoo death with a child abduction ring, add in a disbarred ex-attorney with believes in demon possession and oppression, couple that with a carefully staged murder and the attorney’s daughter who goes missing, you have the key plot ingredients of Craig Parshall’s latest offering.

In The Occupied, the author introduced us to Trevor Black, a disbarred ex-attorney who could sense when demons were present. In The Empowered, Black is asked to investigate a mysterious voodoo death in Washington, DC. The journey takes Black and his daughter to New Orleans and finally to Washington, DC in pursuit of both a physical and supernatural enemy.

In the first book, Black had a spiritual encounter with Christ that transformed his life. He made a decision to use his special “gifting” to fight evil in the world. In the second book, Black explains that he believes

that there is a shadow world. A dark empire of evil that is mostly unseen. But the doors that lead there—they’re open for business. I think voodoo is one of them.

The book is well written and grabs your attention from the opening sentence of the prologue and doesn’t let go until the thrilling end of the novel. On the one hand, it combines elements from the daily headlines—child abduction, human trafficking, cybercrime, and political corruption—with elements out of Scripture—demon possession and demon oppression. The book gives a realistic, biblical portrayal of the supernatural evil that lies beyond some of the more horrendous crimes of our day.

Because of the subject matter, the book is not for the faint of heart. But it is a fascinating thrill ride well worth the read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Posted by on December 28, 2017 in Books


Happy 37th Anniversary!

Happy 37th anniversary to my bride, wife, best friend, lover, ministry partner, fellow traveler, and lover of Jesus. While the years may have changed us and we may have moved around the country, my love for you has deepened and my commitment grows ever stronger. 37 years is too short a time to be married to your best beloved. May the adventure continue for many more years to come!

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Posted by on December 27, 2017 in Family & Friends, Photos


Lessons learned (or learning)

A few of the random thoughts I’ve had this past week about my ongoing stint on the DL.

I am expendable. Towards the end of the recent sermon series on the life of Moses, I used a quote from Chuck Swindoll. “God’s plan depends on no one for all time, but for all to serve him at a certain time. Time on earth is brief, even for God’s best.” While I’ve been away, First Central Bible Church did not stop functioning. Good ministry has taken place. People have been taught, counseled, and cared for. Good preaching (some might argue “better”) has been delivered. While I count it a privilege to serve God at FCBC, it is his church, not mine. His plan includes me, but is not dependent on me. I am part of a wonderful team, not a solo practitioner.

I am loved. Over the past seven weeks, Carol and I have received encouragement and prayer support from friends and family around the country and the globe. In particular, the congregation of First Central has showered us with cards, visits, care packages, yard work, moving beds, shoveling snow, meals, balloons, finishing putting up the Christmas lights, rides to the doctor, and so much more. They have been the hands and feet of the body of Christ, demonstrating care, compassion, and concern in tangible ways at every turn. I don’t know how we would have survived without their help. And this doesn’t even begin to describe how much my wife has loved and cared for me. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks.

I have a big God who provides abundantly. God has led and provided throughout this entire process of surgery, care, rehab, and recovery. A caring neighbor who called 9-1-1. A church member who stopped at the right time to render aid. The right hospital and surgical team. A 5‑star rehab center. Help when it was needed. Physical therapy. Good insurance. (We received the bill for the hospital this week. We’re still waiting on the bills from the surgeon and rehab center. The hospital bill was $25K. Fortunately, insurance covered the bulk and our responsibility was less than $1K.) God meets us right at our point of need. Praise God for his abundant generosity.

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Posted by on December 26, 2017 in Personal growth


The Glory of Christmas

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Posted by on December 25, 2017 in Christmas, Scripture


What do we mean when we say, “Merry Christmas”?

What does it mean when we wish someone, “Merry Christmas”? What exactly are we saying? Here is a video message created for First Central Bible Church‘s Christmas Eve service. Since I’m on the DL and not able to be there, we decided to go the video route. The idea and outline for the message came from a book written by Pastor Rick Warren.



Posted by on December 24, 2017 in Christmas, First Central Bible Church, Videos